Thursday, October 10, 2013

Show Me the Money (Please)

I don't know that I have ever been more frightened in my life, as I was when I had to sell candy bars.

I was 11 years old.

It was a school-related fundraiser, natch, I believe for an after school program I was involved in where my grade school partnered with the YMCA.

They sent a bunch of us munchkins out to sell candy bars---door-to-door. The bars came in cardboard boxes with convenient handles. Yippee.

So I'm 11 and I'm going door-to-door, unescorted, and you could never get away with this now. Can you imagine the dangers in today's world of sending children to strange people's houses?

Of course, those dangers were there in 1974, but I suppose we didn't pay as much attention. Or maybe the world wasn't as mentally bent then as it is now.

Anyhow, I hated the gig. I had a script I was supposed to follow, but I'm sure I strayed from it---like, as soon as the door opened. I'm sure I mumbled something about candy bars and supporting us, and then hoped for the best.

I remember one woman got particularly nasty to me and basically slammed the door in my face. How you do that to an 11-year-old, I don't know. But as I trudged to the next rejection, she called down from an upstairs bedroom window and apologized. Fancy that.

My mother, I believe, got the bright idea to just buy up the candy bars herself, saving me from further door-to-door torture. That decision met with my wholehearted approval.

I don't know when kids stopped selling their own stuff, but my mother was probably on the cutting edge. Parents purchasing their kids' wares was the start. The next step was to share the cost---with co-workers, friends and relatives.

If you've ever held a job in your life outside of the home, you've all been there.

You've either been the seller or the customer, or both.

You know how it works.

"My (son/daughter) is selling (fill in the blank). Here's the sign-up sheet. Money is due on (insert date)."

That's pretty much the pitch.



Some of the stuff is sophisticated and requires full color catalogs. Most is junk you barely need, but it's for the kids, right?

One year, our daughter sold cheesecakes for her marching band. Now that's a nice thing to pitch. Who doesn't like cheesecake?

I have bought pizza kits, kitchen houseware items, candy, popcorn and Lord knows what else. I'm sure you have, too. And you've probably been "that" person with a sign-up sheet taped near your cubicle.

Whenever I'm asked to buy something, my first words are always the same: 'When do you need the money?"

Because some stuff needs to be paid up front, some stuff can be paid for when the goods come in. Just tell me when you need the money first, and then I'll let you know if I can do it.

Someone in my office is selling popcorn, and her sales pitch minces no words.

"It's ridiculously expensive, so don't feel obligated," she keeps telling folks.

Ah, honesty---refreshing in the shake down world of school fundraisers, eh?

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